Post 1: Chapter 1, pgs. 1-7
I rub my eyes with my forefinger and thumb. Blue light floods through the tiny window next to my bed; the sun hasn’t yet risen. I have a couple more hours left, so I roll onto my left side, away from the window, even though I know it’s completely useless. I let my mind wander over everything, over everything that’s soon to come. Today is the day the sixteen-year-olds of every faction go through an aptitude test, determining which faction they belong to best. Today is the day some of their lives may change, when some of them may leave their families forever, not looking back.
Faction before blood.
I don’t believe it. We’ve put down the virtues of other factions in the process of bolstering our own.
And for me, it’s another day of preparing to torture future initiates. Another day of having to look at Eric’s ugly, pierced face. His smirk alone is enough to make any initiate beg to become factionless. And I’m glad I have the power to wipe it off his face. I’m glad he’s still scared of me, though he doesn’t need to be. A puny Stiff with absolutely no fighting skills? Yeah, more like your worst nightmare. But I’m suspicious of him. Well, I’m suspicious of people in general, I expect the worst of them. And Eric’s the worst of his kind. He may act like he’s Dauntless through and through, but here and there, you can see Erudite. A ruthless Dauntless and a brilliant Erudite is not a very good combination, and I know he’s using his brains to put himself in Max’s favor. There’s something he knows that I don’t, and I’m trying to figure it out.
I’ve found a way into the Dauntless secure files. And I’ve found files sent by Erudite. War plans.
But what for?
Light flows into the room, and fingers of gold dance across the bedspread. The darkness of night still hides in the shadows of the corners of the room. Sunlight hits my face, and even when I close my eyes, light still permeates through my eyelids. I take that as a sign that Mother Nature wants me to get up, and I roll out of bed and head into the bathroom, still a bit groggy. The air feels warm; summer has finally decided to come. The cold bathroom tile stings my toes as I turn on the tap. Each splash of water on my face makes me stronger; it wipes away any emotion I might show. Dauntless flames peek out above the neckline of my black shirt. It’s a fire that will never go out, tattooed on me.
People think I’m amazing; they think I can do anything, but however hard I try, I never feel Dauntless. I never feel strong enough. I’m not worth this faction. I’m a coward through and through.
I can’t look weak. I can’t.
I briefly look at the mirror, trying to avoid my eyes, because every time I look at my eyes, or I look at my face, I hate myself. Marcus will follow me wherever I go, no matter how hard I want to leave him.
I crack my knuckles, trying to distract my mind from reaching too deep within myself. Some things need to stay hidden.
I rub the stubble on my cheek, feeling too lazy to do anything about it. Pulling a comb through my hair, even though it makes no difference, I head back into the bedroom. Long hair is not something I can get used to.
There’s a little bit of Stiff in me that urges me to make my bed every morning. I try to tame it, but it hasn’t worked out in two years. After all, I’m not so Dauntless as to be selfish enough to neglect my responsibilities.
Post 2 : Chapter 6, pgs. 48-60
I don’t do Choosing Ceremonies.
And I certainly won’t this year.
I scrunch up the report in my hands, pretending that I’m crumpling up Jeanine’s face as well. For once, her suspicions are correct.
“Marcus Eaton’s violence and cruelty to his son is the very reason his son chose Dauntless instead of Abnegation.”
I throw the ball of paper onto my tray and dump it, along with the remnants of my breakfast, into the trash. The dining room is empty, save for me. Most of Dauntless went to the Choosing Ceremony, but I stayed behind, partly because I’m an initiation instructor and must wait for the initiates to arrive, and partly because being in the same room with Marcus is like being in the same room with a pit viper. A nasty, gray colored pit viper. Especially since Abnegation’s conducting the Ceremony this year, and he’ll be at the head of it all.
The most influential leader of Abnegation, the most influential leader in the government, and the most influential man amongst all the factions.
No wonder Jeanine Matthews hates him so much.
And then my mind buzzes.
No wonder about those cruel reviews. No wonder about those war plans.
War. The name is something I’ve never felt before.
Someone taps me on the shoulder and I turn around. Lauren looks up at me, a slightly concerned expression on her face, her dark hair tied back and the three piercings in her right eyebrow looking especially noticeable in the well-lit dining room. She cocks her head, and her eyebrows furrow. “You okay, Four?”
“Yeah.” I comb my hand through my hair. I must have looked completely out of it. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just—just thinking.” I tuck my thoughts away, to bring back later.
She looks like she’s about to say something, but she doesn’t. I turn away from her and stride out of the dining room, towards a narrow tunnel, and give myself a chance to recover. By the time she catches up with me, I’ve planted a frown on my face and any thoughts she could have had for that split second in time would have evaporated entirely from her mind. The Dauntless aren’t ones to care enough to ask.
“So…another year, another group of initiates.” Lauren is not the type of person to be content with silence. I look down at her, but a strand of dark hair that refused to stay back covers her face.
“And a more brutal program.” In the past, initiates immediately went through their fear landscapes. Now, they will face ruthless physical training, and even more painful mental training. And not all of them will survive.
They chose us, now we shall choose them. Eric said those words yesterday, and they still burn in my head. It sounds like a brutal chant.
“Is it okay to already feel sorry for them?” Lauren’s sarcastic tone cuts through the air, and she grins up at me. I don’t make eye contact with her. I just stare straight ahead, into the cavern where the initiates will soon realize that initiation will be a whole lot scarier than they ever thought it would be. The net soaks in the sunshine from the large hole in the ceiling.
“We’re Dauntless. We don’t feel sorry.”
Lauren climbs up the platform and we place ourselves next to the net. She twists her head and looks up, through the hole, through seven stories worth of air.
“Anything?” I ask. I pretend like I’m bored, like I don’t care, but my heart is pounding. Jumping off from seven story buildings is not my kind of game.
She pulls herself back and shakes her head. “No. Just shadows. But I think I can recognize Max.”
We sit in silence for a moment, neither of us saying a word. I look up through the hole and see a shadow nearing the ledge. It takes me seconds before I feel like I’m about to throw up. I sit back on my haunches and hold the edge of the net, half because I’m dizzy, and half because I assume that an initiate is getting ready to jump. “One’s coming,” I tell Lauren.
The force of the initiate’s impact barely shakes the net. She is small, blonde, and wears gray.
She wears gray.
I discard that information, I put it in the back of my mind, I don’t let it affect me. She looks up and laughs. A half mad, half relieved laugh.
I would have been crying.
Lauren and I reach towards her, and she grabs my hand, stumbling out of the net. I grab her shoulders to keep her from falling flat on her face, then release her a moment after she stands upright again.
I see her, but I can’t process her. It’s like my brain wants me to block her out. She says something to me, but I am momentarily deaf.
I blink my eyes. Get over it, get over it.
“I can’t believe it,” Lauren smirks at the girl. “A Stiff, the first to jump? Unheard of.”
Get in the present. Don’t think too much. Don’t think.
“There’s a reason why she left them, Lauren,” I say it plainly, with no emotion.” I look at the girl, my expression as placid as possible. “What’s your name?”
“Umm…” She hesitates, unsure.
When I came to Dauntless, I left everything I knew. I left everything that hurt me. I built myself armour, and I remade myself here.
I try to throw off any emotion I might show on my face. “Think about it,” I smirk a little bit. Try to look strong, try to look strong. “You don’t get to pick again.” A new place, a new name. She can be remade here, like me.
“Tris.” Even though she’s short and looks more like an eight-year-old than a sixteen-year-old girl, the way she says it stuns me for a split second.
She’s not Stiff at all. She’s strong.
Post 3: Chapter 7, pgs. 62-69
Lauren and the Dauntless born initiates dissolve into the shadows, and I turn towards the faction transfers, scrutinizing each one of them in turn. Half are from Erudite. The other half is from Candor, oddly enough. Maybe it requires bravery to be honest all the time. I wouldn’t know.
I keep my face placid, no emotion. That is my best armour, and it alone is enough for them to know that I’m not one to be messed with.
“Most of the time I work in the control room, but for the next few weeks, I am your instructor. My name is Four.”
A copper skinned girl with chin length black hair frowns at me, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Four? Like the number?”
I give her an icy glare and raise my eyebrows. “Yes. Is there a problem?”
“Good. We’re about to go into the Pit, which you will someday learn to love. It–”
The girl snickers. “The Pit? Clever name.”
Sometimes the Candor are too cocky for their own good. I let the waves of anger roll over me, and I walk up to her, leaning my face close to hers. I stare at her, watching the warmth and smugness in her eyes go out cold.
Good. That’s better.
“What’s your name?” I ask it quietly, venomously, enough to scare myself.
“Christina,” she squeaks, like a scared mouse.
“Well, Christina, if I wanted to put up with Candor smart-mouths, I would have joined their faction,” I hiss it, almost like a snake. “The first lesson you will learn from me is to keep your mouth shut. Got that?”
She nods, and I can tell she’s slightly afraid of me.
I turn around and start towards the double doors that lead into the Pit.
I hear Christina whisper behind me. “What a jerk.”
And I can’t help but smile, just for that moment.
The initiates absorb the Pit with their eyes. They each try to look as cool as possible, like they’ve lived here their whole life, even though they obviously haven’t.
But she doesn’t. Tris is shorter than the others, but looking down, I can see her blonde head clearly. She looks up and around, interested, taking everything in. She’s already deemed it useless to pretend she’s known this place forever. She’d rather try her best to learn as much about it as she possibly can.
The other initiates stare at me, waiting. “If you follow me,” I say, “I’ll show you the chasm.” I say it more to her than anyone else. Her eyes break away from whatever she was looking at and she stares up at me. I don’t make eye contact with her. As I lead them to the chasm, I feel her eyes on me.
Does she recognize me?
A voice chants in my head, but I suppress it.
I take them to the dining hall. Tris’ eyes bore into my back, and I feel my palms get sweaty.
The Dauntless cheer, stamp their feet, shout. Their noise surrounds the initiates, fills them, makes them grin with pride. Half of them will be factionless by the end of all this. For some of them, those grins will never have existed.
I see Tris and Christina seat themselves at a table.
I swallow. She’s shown no sign of recognition, but I must make sure.
She can’t be the one who unravels me.
I sit next to her, and watch her stare at the hamburgers on the table as if they had just sprouted horns. It’s a bit comical, but I feel just a bit sorry for her. Being a Stiff is not the easiest when surrounded by Dauntless.
I nudge her with my elbow. “It’s beef. Put this on it.” I hand her a bowl of ketchup.
The Candor girl stares at her, a stricken expression on her face. “You’ve never had a hamburger before?”
It’s out of my mouth before I even realize it. “Stiffs eat plain food.”
Tris shrugs. “Extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.”
She’s still a Stiff, at her core.
Christina smirks. “No wonder you left.”
“Yeah,” she says, rolling her eyes. “It was just because of the food.”
First time I’ve seen a Stiff capable of sarcasm. I have to pinch myself to keep from full-out grinning.
And that is when Eric walks in. He commands respect, as the youngest Dauntless leader, and a hush falls over the dining room.
“Who’s that?” hisses Christina.
Not the best time to speak, Candor.
“His name is Eric,” I say, “He’s a Dauntless leader.”
“Seriously? But he’s so young.”
“Age doesn’t matter here.” How well you fight, how ruthless you are, how much you’re willing to kill…that’s what matters here.
When Eric’s eyes find me, my jaw tightens. He sits down next to me, and I look away from him. It’s the best I can do to keep myself from punching him in the nose.
“Well, aren’t you going to introduce me?” He laces his fingers together and nods across the table.
“This is Tris and Christina.” I say it coldly, reminding him that’s he’s not welcome here. He’s not welcome anywhere near me.
“Ooh, a Stiff,” says Eric, smirking at Tris. I see her wince. “We’ll see how long you last.” Eric is not human. He can’t be. When someone is in pain, he doesn’t care. In fact, he sees torture as a form of entertainment.
He taps his fingers against the table and turns towards me. “What have you been doing lately, Four?”
I squeeze my fists and glare at him, letting all the anger that’s inside of me stream out of my eye sockets. “Nothing, really.”
“Max tells me he keeps trying to meet with you, and you don’t show up,” Eric says. “He requested that I find out what’s going on with you.”
Eric is power hungry. To him, I’m a threat to his position. He wants more power, and the more he gets, the more he lives in the terror of losing it. For a moment, my mind grapples with the idea of accepting a government job so I can find out what the Dauntless leaders have been keeping in the shadows. Maps, supply lists, thinly veiled commands.
But I don’t. I can’t.
“Tell him that I am satisfied with the position I currently hold.”
“So he wants to give you a job.”
“So it would seem.”
“And you aren’t interested.”
“I haven’t been interested in two years.” And I never will be. I’ll never be able to face Marcus.
And I’m a coward.
“Well, let’s hope he gets the point, then.” He claps me on the shoulder and gets up. I don’t watch him walk away. I just look at something in the distance.
“Are you two…friends?” I hear Tris’ voice, cutting through my daze.
“We were in the same initiate class. He transferred from Erudite.”
“Were you a transfer too?”
I don’t give her the answer to that question, and I let her know that she will never get the answer, especially since she’s as nosy as a Candor.
“I thought I would only have trouble with the Candor asking too many questions,” I tell her coldly. “Now I’ve got Stiffs, too?”
She replies back, strong, ignoring the consequences it might cause, even though she knows how dangerous it is. “It must be because you’re so approachable. You know. Like a bed of nails.”
And it strikes me again. Her inner strength.
She stares at me, challenging me, telling me she will never give in. Then she blushes bright red, and I Iean back and cross my arms.
“Careful, Tris,” I tell her.
You don’t yet know how strong you can be.
Post 4: Chapter 8, pgs. 76-79
I hold the needle to my skin, it’s cold metal making me shiver.
I’d lain on my bed, my hands clasped over my stomach, and waited. I had stared at the ceiling for two hours, waiting for midnight to come and for all of Dauntless to be asleep.
And when I would let my eyelids close, the events of the day fly through my mind in a matter of seconds. I can’t go to sleep; my mind is buzzing.
Tris holds her gun away from her, as though it’s an alien being. But she stares at it with determination. She’s awkward and uncomfortable, as any Abnegation with a gun in her hands would be. But she tries, and she tries, and she tries again. And every time, even though she doesn’t even hit the edge of the target, she persists. She ignores what others think.
She’s strong; she keeps going.
And when she finally hits the target, her eyes light up. She’s awake and alive. Her strength gives her power.
Maybe she does belong here.
And, at 12:08, I’m standing in the fear landscape room, a dank space above the Pit where graffiti covers the walls and the exposed pipes run above my head.
The room is lit up by old-fashioned fluorescent tubes with plastic covers.
I plunge the needle into my neck. The syringe clatters to the ground, but I don’t hear it. In the sixty seconds it takes for the serum to go into effect, I stare at the word “Dauntless” spray-painted in red on the concrete wall.
Maybe I can belong here, too.
Post 5: Chapter 10, pgs. 109-111
I fold my arms and look at Peter. His eyes gleam, like he can’t wait to knock Tris out. I see her swallow; I see her gather from within herself all the courage she can muster.
Eric taps his foot, impatient for the fight to begin and end. I, on the other hand, want to freeze this moment in time forever. She’ll try the hardest she can, but it won’t help a bit.
“You okay there, Stiff?” Peter says to Tris, “You look like you’re about to cry. I might go easy on you if you cry.”
A voice inside my head tells me that I can’t let her get hurt, I can’t. But I silence that voice. Life isn’t easy. I want to see her try and lose. I want her to hurt, because then she’ll pick herself back up. In the end, she’ll be stronger.
“Come on Stiff,” Peter says, his eyes glinting. “Just one little tear. Maybe some begging.”
I see anger surge through her. She kicks him, but he grabs her foot and throws her to the ground.
“Stop playing with her,” Eric snaps. “I don’t have all day.”
I say nothing.
I watch Peter beat her up, and it disgusts me, how little humanity Peter has.
I keep my face blank.
He punches her again and again and again. And she gets up again and again and again. Peter slams into her side and smacks her ear with the flat of his palm. She wobbles like a top.
That’s it. I’ve had enough.
I shove the door open and walk out.
Post 6: Chapter 12, pgs. 140-150
I sit on the carousel, leaning against a plastic horse foot. The initiates bicker over who should make the decision for the capture-the-flag game. Their arguing doesn’t concern me, and I Iet my eyes lift to the sky. This night is starless, only the moon shines bright through a thin layer of clouds. I get lost in the dark blue sky, and I feel free the first time in months. I feel at peace.
I see a movement in the corner of my eye and look around to see a blonde head disappear into the darkness.
She probably knows that the arguing is completely useless. I get up and follow her, knowing that the rest of the initiates are too ignorant to notice I am gone.
She stands in front of the Ferris wheel, and I stand a few paces behind. I look up at the Ferris wheel and my stomach flops. It’s so tall I can barely see the cars swinging at the top.
She grabs one of the rusted supports that hold the wheel in place, almost as though it’s a ladder rung. She jumps, testing to see if it can hold her weight.
I’m afraid I’m about to throw up.
Oh God, please don’t try climbing the Ferris wheel, please don’t.
“Tris,” I say her name in the silence of the night, and it sounds perfect, amidst the darkness of the midnight sky and the few crickets that chirp. She looks over her shoulder at me, and I’m surprised she doesn’t look startled. I stand there, stupefied and staring. Was she expecting me to follow her?
“Yes?” she asks.
I swallow. “I came to find out what you think you’re doing.”
“I’m seeking higher ground,” she says, matter-of-factly, “I don’t think I’m doing anything.”
She’s as smart as an Erudite. And she’s braver than I am.
I smile weakly. “All right. I’m coming.”
“I’ll be fine.” She frowns.
Oh, you don’t know. You don’t know that I’m the one who won’t be fine.
“Undoubtedly,” I tell her.
She starts to climb, and I follow her, refusing to let myself look down. My heart is pounding and I am breathless. I make a desperate attempt to distract my brain.
“So tell me…” I ask, “What do you think the purpose of this exercise is? The game, I mean, not the climbing.”
Stupid, a voice hisses in my mind.
“Learning about strategy,” she says. “Teamwork, maybe.”
“Teamwork,” I repeat. Today, the Dauntless are more likely to kill each other than form a friendship. The night breeze presses against my side. We are high up, too high for my taste, and a panicked breath escapes from my throat.
“Maybe not,” she says. “Teamwork doesn’t seem to be a Dauntless priority.”
The wind is stronger now, my hands ache from holding the rungs, and the height is dizzying. I just keep talking. “It’s supposed to be a priority. It used to be.”
I speak in my plain tone, my initiate instructor tone. It makes me feel less like I’m about to fall seventy-five feet. “Now tell me, what do you think learning strategy has to do with…bravery?”
“It…it prepares you to act,” she says, after a moment. “You learn strategy so you can use it.” She pauses for a moment. “Are you all right, Four?”
It doesn’t take me long to respond. I feel like I’m on the verge of death. “Are you human, Tris? Being up this high…” I gulp for air, like a fish. “It doesn’t scare you at all?”
She looks over her shoulder at the ground, and I half expect a shadow of fear or panic to pass over her face. That doesn’t happen. In fact, she looks more determined than ever.
A gust of air throws her to the right, and I suddenly realize how frail she really is. She looks like she’s going to fall. I grab her hip and squeeze, steadying her and pushing her to the left, restoring her balance.
We are silent for a moment.
“You okay?” I ask quietly.
“Yes.” Her voice is strained.
We climb until we reach the platform. She sits down and scoots to the end of it, putting her legs over the side. I, on the other hand, crouch and press my back to the metal support. I want to pretend like I’m calm, like climbing one hundred feet in the air is something I do everyday, but I know it’s useless. I let myself breath heavily.
“You’re afraid of heights,” she says. “How do you survive in the Dauntless compound?”
It’s like I’ve been waiting for someone to ask that question. “I ignore my fear. When I make decisions, I pretend it doesn’t exist.”
She stares at me, whether in awe, realization, or fear, I don’t know. But she doesn’t break away her gaze. “What?” I ask quietly.
She looks away from me and towards the city. “We’re not high enough,” she says, “I’m going to climb.” She grabs one of the bars above her head that is part of the wheel’s scaffolding.
Oh, please. “For God’s sake, Stiff.”
“You don’t have to follow me.” She sways for a second, a second of near death, and I say my response before I even think it.
“Yes, I do.”
It’s easy for me, physically, to climb the scaffolding. But mentally, that’s another story.
“See that?” Tris points down at something on the ground, and I stop climbing when I’m right behind her. I look over her shoulder, and see a tiny pulsing light on the ground.
I want to say, ‘You’re brilliant, Tris’, but instead I say “Yeah.” And I smile. “It’s coming from the park at the end of the pier,” I tell her. “Figures. It’s surrounded by open space, but the trees provide some camouflage. Obviously not enough.”
“Okay.” We look at each other for a moment, but then she looks away.
“Um.” She clears her throat. “Start climbing down. I’ll follow you.”
I nod, thanking God that the torture is now over, and step down, guiding my body between the bars.
I hear a creak, then a clattering sound, as a bar comes loose and falls, bouncing on the pavement. I look up to see Tris dangling from the scaffolding, her feet swinging in midair. “Four!” She gasps.
I see her fingers, white at the knuckles, and slipping.
“Hold on!” I shout at her. “Just hold on, I have an idea.” I climb down, pull open the door to the Ferris wheel control box, and fiddle with some of the knobs, but nothing works.
Come on, come on.
“Four!” I hear her yell, desperately.
Please don’t die, Tris. Not now, not yet.
I hear a wheeze and a creak, and sigh travels throughout my body. The wheel moves, bringing her downwards towards the ground. I slam the control box door shut just as she hits the ground, rolling to the side.
She covers her face with her hands and doesn’t move.
I walk towards her and sit on the ground, wrenching her hands from her eyes. I enclose one of her hands between my palms and chant silently in my mind.
It’s okay. It’s okay.
That chant will travel from my mind to my heart to palms to her hand.
“You all right?” I ask.
“Yeah.” The tension is gone, and I start to laugh.
After a second, she laughs too.
Post 7: Chapter 15, pgs. 178-182
Today is the day most Dauntless come together with their families, and the day transfers meet with any family members who are willing to see them, provided that they aren’t angry at their child’s betrayal from their birth faction.
I watch Tris embrace her mother, who is clad in gray.
I stand alone, looking away from them, afraid her mother will recognize me from somewhere, even though I’ve never seen her before. They near the railing that overlooks the chasm, and I, a few paces away and partially turned away from them, can hear bits and pieces of what they’re saying. I don’t pay attention to whatever they are talking about, until I hear her mother’s voice, slightly worried, and a little bit exasperated.
“Tensions between our factions are higher than ever. I wish it wasn’t that way, but there is little I can do about it.” Her mother sighs.
War. The words shouts inside me, the word I’ve been keeping suppressed for so long.
Jeanine Matthews is the smartest person in Erudite, in all the five factions. She’s the cause of the tensions between the factions, and for a reason. She’s partnered with the Dauntless, because we have something that the Erudite don’t. We have fighting skills, we know how to use weapons. I step away from the railing, away from everything.
I find myself face to face with Tris’ mother, who holds out her hand. Tris stands beside her. “Hello. My name is Natalie,” her mother says. “I’m Beatrice’s mother.”
I feel like a scared rabbit, and I want to run away and hide. Instead I take her hand, awkwardly. As an Abnegation, I never touched anyone, let alone shook hands. Even now, being in Dauntless, I’m not very keen on doing anything of the like.
“Four,” I say weakly. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Four,” she repeats, smiling. “Is that a nickname?”
Does she know who I am?
“Yes.” There’s silence for a moment, and I know they’re expecting me to elaborate. I quickly say the first thing I can think of. “Your daughter is doing well here. I’ve been overseeing her training.”
I feel Tris’ eyes on me. I can hear her voice in my head.
Since when does “overseeing” include throwing knives at me and scolding me at every opportunity?
Oh Tris, you don’t understand. You don’t understand your strength. You don’t even know your limits.
And I will push you.
“That’s good to hear,” her mother says. “I know a few things about Dauntless initiation, and I was worried about her.”
I may have only known Tris for a week and a half, but I am sure that she has enough power and determination inside her to do anything she sets her mind to. During training, when she took Al’s place and let me throw knives at her, I could see that determination, like a fire glowing behind her eyes. And when the flame shuddered, for just a moment, I was terrified of it going out. I taunted and teased her, just to find that glow again.
She was brave; she was selfless. And I realized that the two weren’t as different as I’d thought.
I look at her, from her nose to her mouth to her chin. She looks strong. She looks beautiful. “You shouldn’t worry,” I tell her mother.
She tilts her head. “You look familiar for some reason, Four.”
My heart is suddenly pounding. My brain tells me to change the subject, fast. “I can’t imagine why,” I tell her icily, “I don’t make a habit of associating with the Abnegation.”
She laughs lightly, and doesn’t inquire further. “Few people do, these days. I don’t take it personally.”
I feel myself relax. “Well, I’ll leave you to your reunion.”
I force my feet to walk, rather than run.
Post 8: Chapter 17, pgs. 222-226 and Chapter 18, pgs. 235-238
There is a reason why no one ever fails Abnegation initiation.
In Abnegation, everyone is equal. Everyone is one. It would be selfish to be different, to inconvenience people with your quirks. And it would be selfish to dislike someone for his differences, just because his quirks inconvenience you.
And it would be selfish not to include everyone, to make everyone your friend. To make everyone a part of the group.
In Dauntless, if you want to be a part of the group, you have to prove it by what you do and do not do, and how you do it.
I was a part of the group the first day I came to Dauntless, the day I was given the name Four.
I did not deserve it.
When Tris walks into the cafeteria that evening, after zip lining from the Hancock building, she stands amongst the Dauntless like she is one of them. They stand around her like they have accepted her.
She deserved it.
I watch her writhe and scream, batting at the imaginary crows around her.. My hands lay helplessly in my lap, and I wait for her to wake up. I feel useless, because I cannot help her. When she does wake up, she screams and moans and pulls her knees to her chest, burying her face in them.
I gently touch her shoulder, and she punches me in the arm. “Don’t touch me!” she sobs into her knees.
For a moment, I feel like she’s lost forever.
I blink, and that thought leaves my brain, I don’t let myself think about it.
“It’s over,” I tell her. I awkwardly stroke her hair, like Abnegation parents do to calm their crying children, like what my parents never did to me. “Tris.”
She rocks back and forth in the metal chair.
I hate seeing her like this. She always looks so strong, but here she is, broken. “Tris, I’m going to take you back to the dorms, okay?”
“No!” she snaps at me, and I’m startled. She glares at me, and her eyes are filled with tears. “They can’t see me…not like this…”
She’s just been scared to death, and the first thing she’s worried about is her public image? “Oh, calm down,” I roll my eyes. “I’ll take you out the back door.”
“I don’t need you to…”
“Nonsense.” Her body is trembling and I can tell she’s extremely weak.
Before she rejects my help, I grab her arm and haul her out of the chair, steering her towards the door behind the computer screen.
We walk down the hallway in silence. When we’re a few hundred yards away from the room, she yanks her arm away and stops. “Why did you do that to me?” she demands, her stare penetrating my skull. “What was the point of that, huh? I wasn’t aware that when I chose Dauntless, I was signing up for weeks of torture!”
Seeing her speak like that scares me, because it makes me doubt the strength I thought she had. “Did you think overcoming cowardice would be easy?” I tell her calmly.
“This isn’t overcoming cowardice! Cowardice is how you decide to be in real life, and in real life, I am not getting pecked to death by crows, Four!” she sobs into her hands. After a few seconds, she stops and wipes her face. “I want to go home,” she says weakly.
She knows as well as I do that home is not an option anymore.
I should have comforted her, but all I felt was irritation. I was angry with her for being weak, for giving up so easily. I was scared that I’d lost the real Tris, and I wanted her back. “Learning how to think in the midst of fear,” I tell her coolly, “is a lesson that everyone, even your Stiff family, needs to learn. That’s what we’re trying to teach you. If you can’t learn it, you’ll need to get the hell out of here, because we won’t want you.”
“I’m trying.” Her lower lip trembles. “But I failed. I’m failing.”
Seeing her so broken, and the way I respond to her so coldly, makes me feel like a failure. I sigh. “How long do you think you spent in that hallucination, Tris?”
“I don’t know.” She shakes her head. “A half hour?”
“Three minutes,” I tell her. “You got out three times faster than the other initiates. Whatever you are, you’re not a failure.” She looks slightly relieved, and I smile at her. “Tomorrow you’ll be better at this. You’ll see.” Something floats to the top of my mind, a word I don’t want to even think of, but I push it out of my mind, just as I gently push her towards the dormitory.
“What was your first hallucination?” she asks, glancing at me.
I want to tell her everything, to let everything that I’ve kept inside me spill out. But I don’t do that. “It wasn’t a ‘what’ so much as a ‘who’.” I shrug. “It’s not important.”
“And are you over that fear now?”
“Not yet,” I tell her. We reach the door to the dormitory, and I lean against the wall. “I may never be.”
In this post, Tobias says that “I was a part of the group the first day I came to Dauntless, the day I was given the name Four.” It was not specified in the book that initiates in the past went through their fear landscape on the first day, but on Veronica Roth’s website, she states that
In “Free Four”, Tobias reveals that when he was an initiate, the initiation process was a bit different: initiates went through their fear landscapes immediately after arriving at the Dauntless compound. In Divergent, it’s mentioned a few times that the initiation process has changed quite a bit since Tobias was an initiate (he suggests it has become a lot more brutal, for example), and one of those changes was that the fear landscape was shifted to the end.
Post 9: Chapter 20, pgs. 253-256 and Chapter 21, pgs. 279-281
I watch Tris in her simulation, pounding on the walls of the glass box that is filling with water. Her body lays next to me in the metal chair, but her brain is somewhere else.
Calm down, Tris. It’s just a simulation. You can get out of it.
I shout those words in my mind, hoping she might be able to hear them.
She slaps at the glass, screaming. “Help! Please! Please help!”
The water covers her head, and she thrashes, smacking the walls. She screams, and water fills her mouth.
Calm down, Tris.
She screams again and shoves the wall with her palm. A crack appears, and she slams her other hand into the wall and drives another crack through the glass. She kicks the wall, and the pane shatters.
The word starts in my head, but soon it’s everywhere, in my arms, my legs, my heart, my soul.
I’m Divergent, too.
It’s the first time I’ve thought that word in years. Even thinking it feels dangerous.
She gasps and sits up in the chair, shaking out her hands. I just stare at her.
“What?” she asks.
“How did you do that?”
“Crack the glass.”
“I don’t know.”
I don’t know what to do. I eventually give her my hand and she gets out of the chair. She doesn’t seem worried, like what she just did could be the cause of her death. She doesn’t know that manipulating the simulation is a sign of Divergence. The Divergent are different from the rest, they aren’t wired to think one way.
When a Divergent is found out, she is often killed. There must be something about the Divergent that can make someone so desperate so as to murder them.
They can’t be controlled.
Faction leaders don’t like Divergence. Especially Jeanine.
Tris is being watched. I know it.
I grab her by the elbow and lead her out of the room, to a place where it might be a bit safer. We walk down the hallway, and she stops, pulling her arm back. I stare at her, waiting for her to confirm what is undoubtedly true.
“What?” she asks.
“You’re Divergent,” I reply. Saying the word stings my tongue.
I see fear pass over her eyes. Then she leans back, trying to act casual. “What’s Divergent?”
“Don’t play stupid,” I tell her. I remember the simulation with the crows, fresh in my mind from yesterday. “I suspected it last time, but this time it’s obvious. You manipulated the simulation; you’re Divergent. I’ll delete the footage, but unless you want to wind up dead at the bottom of the chasm, you’ll figure out how to hide it during the simulation!” Saying that makes me imagine her body at the bottom of the chasm, lifeless. It scares me, but it angers me more.
Don’t you dare let yourself die.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me.” I walk back to the simulation room and slam the door. I feel Tris’ eyes on me, and I know her mind is churning. I tell myself that at one time or another, she’ll figure out what I am. But I won’t help her, she’ll figure it out on her own.
I wake up hearing screaming.
My room is relatively close to the chasm, and it sounds like it’s coming from there.
I listen closely, and hear scuffling, the sound of a body being thrown to the ground, then groans. I’m debating between going and seeing what’s happening and going back to sleep. I plan on choosing the latter, but it’s the desperate scream of pain that does it.
By the time I reach the chasm, Peter has a hand wrapped around her throat, and he’s holding her above the roaring river. His hair is tousled and sticks to his forehead. His face is contorted and his teeth are gritted. He’s a monster. The ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.
Tris tries to kick him, but her legs are too short.
It may be because I’ve just woken up, but it feels like a dream.
I kick Peter in the knees, and he releases Tris, his eyes wide as he looks up at me. He falls on the floor, but before I can kick him in the stomach, he’s up and gone, running away. Al follows him, closely behind.
Al, one of Tris’ closest friends.
I’m not surprised. The strength and invulnerability from a little girl like Tris is unbearable for someone who is expected by others to be strong, who expects himself to be just as strong, if not stronger.
Kind of like me.
But unlike Al, I can bear it. In fact, I find it beautiful.
I don’t know how I do it, but Drew is on the floor, knocked out, and my knuckles are bloody. Tris is hanging from the railing overlooking the chasm, one step away from death. My hands wrap around her arms and I pull her over the railing, gathering her into my arms. For a moment we just stand there, paralyzed. She presses her face into my shoulder, and we are quiet. There is a sudden, hollow silence that resonates throughout the Pit.
It could have happened, but it didn’t.
I could have been alone forever, the only one, and the glow behind her eyes could have become dead coals.
I carry her back to my room.
Post 10: Chapter 24, pgs. 307-312
Al died a long time ago. He died when he lost all his pride, not when he jumped into the chasm.
I taste bile when I hear Eric call his suicide brave. He wasn’t brave. I hear Eric, yelling above the crowd, “To Albert the Courageous!” And I hear the crowd, screaming, “To Albert!” until his name loses all meaning, until it’s not his name anymore.
He was selfish, he was a coward, and he tried to murder Tris.
And this is what they celebrate; this is what they cheer for. He was not strong, he was not brave. I give him no respect.
I see Tris, escaping from the crowd, heading down a dark hallway. I follow her, and I hide in the shadows, watching her shake her head with disgust. From the work I do in the control room I vaguely remember that a security camera lurks in the corner.
I step into the blue light. “Tris.”
I see a jolt go through her, and she turns around. “What are you doing here?” she asks, “Shouldn’t you be paying your respects?” She says it like it’s poison stinging the inside of her mouth and she has to spit it out.
“Shouldn’t you?” I ask. I step closer so she can see me better.
“Can’t pay respect when you don’t have any,” she replies. I see her pause for a second and shake her head, like she’s shaking off the guilt inside her. “I didn’t mean that.”
Yes, you did mean that.
I want to tell her that he doesn’t deserve any respect in any case, but I don’t want to make it worse. “Ah.”
“This is ridiculous,” she says. Her cheeks glow bright red with anger, and the fire behind her eyes blazes. “He throws himself off a ledge and Eric’s calling it brave? Eric, who tried to have you throw knives at Al’s head?” She grimaces, and I know she’s thinking about everything that makes up Eric: false smiles, artificial words, twisted ideals. And lies. Lots and lots of lies. “He wasn’t brave! He was depressed and a coward and he almost killed me! Is that the kind of thing we respect here?”
There are still people who believe in what’s right. Like me. Like you,Tris. I just don’t think it reached Al’s heart in time. Despite how corrupt a faction may be, there are still people, at the heart of the faction, who believe in the virtues the faction once had. In shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves. In the pursuit of knowledge that can make our lives easier. Make others’ lives easier. In forgiveness, and trust, and kindness. In honesty that leads to peace. In projecting always outwards.
“What do you want them to do?” I tell her. “Condemn him? Al’s already dead. He can’t hear it and it’s too late.”
“It’s not about Al,” she snaps. “It’s about everyone watching! Everyone who now sees hurling themselves into the chasm as a viable option. I mean, why not do it if everyone calls you a hero afterward? Why not do it if everyone will remember your name? It’s…I can’t…”
She shakes her head and shudders. “This would never have happened in Abnegation!” she shouts. “None of it! Never. This place warped him and ruined him, and I don’t care if saying that makes me a Stiff, I don’t care!”
She’s basically telling the world of her Divergence. In front of a security camera. I glance at the shadowy corner. “Careful, Tris.”
“Is that all you can say?” she yells, scowling at me. “That I should be careful? That’s it?”
She’s exploding, not caring to listen to a word she says. I grab her arm and drag her away from the drinking fountain, before it’s too late. “You’re as bad as the Candor, you know that?”
I stop and put my hands on her shoulders, squeezing her like maybe all the words she just said will go back inside her. “They are watching you,” I tell her quietly, “You, in particular.”
“Let go of me,” she says weakly. She sounds like a mouse that squeaks when it’s being squeezed to death. I let go of her and straighten.
“Are they watching you, too?” she says so quietly that only I would be able to hear.
I ignore her.
“I keep trying to help you,” I tell her, “but you refuse to be helped.”
“Oh, right. Your help,” she says, sneering at me. “Stabbing my ear with a knife and taunting me and yelling at me more than you yell at anyone else, it sure is helpful.”
“Taunting you? You mean when I threw the knives? I wasn’t taunting you,” I snap at her. She’s taking a long time to catch on. “I was reminding you that if you failed, someone would have to take your place.”
A wave of realization hits her, and she cups the back of her neck.
“Why?” she asks a moment later.
The Dauntless manifesto pounds in my head.
“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
The Abnegation would probably agree with that statement, too.
“Because you’re from Abnegation,” I tell her, “and it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.” It’s when you are most awake. Fear doesn’t shut you down, Tris; it wakes you up.
Post 11: Chapter 25, pgs. 320-332 and Chapter 26, pgs. 335-338
I still don’t know why I did it.
The Candor say that the truth is too powerful to remain caged. That it is a wild animal that eats at you from the inside.
Maybe that’s why I showed Tris. Or maybe it’s because I knew she would not think less of me after she knew.
She was small, but she scared me. I didn’t know her limits, and I’ll never know what I can expect from her. I was not afraid she’d hurt me, I was not afraid of her. I was afraid that I did not know her.
In the claustrophobic box that is a tiny closet upstairs where I spent a quarter of my childhood, I hear her heart racing. I think she’s afraid too, but not of the box.
“If I were in your fear landscape,” I ask her, “would I be in it?”
“I’m not afraid of you,” she says.
“Of course you’re not. But that’s not what I mean.”
She pulls out everything that I thought I would have to hide inside me forever.
“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different,” I tell her. “All your life you’ve been training to forget yourself, so when you’re in danger, it becomes your first instinct. I could belong in Abnegation just as easily.”
“Yeah, well,” she says, “I left Abnegation because I wasn’t selfless enough, no matter how hard I tried to be.”
“That’s not entirely true. That girl who let someone throw knives at her to spare a friend, who hit my dad with a belt to protect me—that selfless girl, that’s not you?”
Tris is selfless, she’s brave, she’s smart, and she has faith in me. Faith is something I’ve never been given. Mostly expectations.
When I told her I liked her, I wanted her to know that I was sure about it.
And when I kissed her, I wanted her to know that I was sure about that, too.
It’s nice to hear my name again.
Post 12: Chapter 28, pgs. 374-377
In the time between getting into bed and actually falling asleep, I think.
Black birds are tattooed on Tris’ neck, flying over her collarbone. I smile at them. “Birds,” I say. “Are they crows? I keep forgetting to ask.”
She smiles back a bit nervously. “Ravens. One for each member of my family. You like them?”
Each one of those ravens lives inside her.
I hold her closer, and press my lips to each of those ravens in turn.
I was given a handful of puzzle pieces, and given enough time, I was able to put a bit of the puzzle together.
But the Divergent are one of those pieces that one spends forever trying to figure out where to place.
I point at the cluster of buildings that glow in the surrounding darkness. Erudite headquarters. “Apparently the city ordinances don’t mean anything to them,” I tell her, “because their lights will be on all night.”
“No one else has noticed?” she frowns.
“I’m sure they have, but they haven’t done anything to stop it. It may be because they don’t want to cause a problem over something so small.” It may be small, but it’s part of something big. I shrug like it doesn’t matter to me, even though it does. “But it made me wonder what the Erudite are doing that requires night light.”
I turn towards her and lean against the wall, creating a bubble that surrounds us. “Two things you should know about me. The first is that I am deeply suspicious of people in general,” I say. “It is my nature to expect the worst of them. And the second is that I am unexpectedly good with computers.” Marcus may have been the worst father to have ever walked the planet, but at least he taught me something.
“A few weeks ago, before training started, I was at work and I found a way into Dauntless secure files. Apparently we are not as skilled as the Erudite are at security,” I tell her, “and what I discovered was what looked like war plans. Thinly veiled commands, supply lists, maps. Things like that. And those files were sent by Erudite.”
“War?” She doesn’t seem shocked. She’s been figuring it out, too. “War on Abnegation?” She tenses up, worried.
I take her hands in mine. “The faction that controls the government. Yes.”
She bites her lip.
“All those reports are supposed to stir up dissention against Abnegation,” I say, looking at the glowing Erudite buildings. “Evidently the Erudite now want to speed up the process. I have no idea what to do about it…or what could even be done.” The Dauntless may know well who I am, but I am limited to the amount of power I have.
“But,” she asks, “why would Erudite team up with Dauntless?” It takes her seconds to find the answer on her own. “They’re going to use us.”
“I wonder,” I say, “how they plan to get us to fight.” We’re both Dauntless who still have their hearts in Abnegation, we’re both Divergent. The Erudite aren’t ones to leave things to chance, especially with how meticulous Jeanine has been. She started small, but had big plans. Now those plans will go into action. She will make sure she has no weaknesses.
The wind blows, throwing Tris’ hair into her face.
“I don’t know,” she says.
Then I realize something.
The Divergent are different from the rest. We can’t be controlled. At least, not by simulations.
We are her weakness.
Post 13: Chapter 31, pgs. 404-405 and Chapter 33, pgs. 420-425
I am awake and alive, but am surrounded by brain-dead soldiers, mind-controlled Dauntless. The only difference between them and me is that I am Divergent, and they are not. I must pretend to be one of them, or be found out.
I help Tris into the train car, and she stands beside me. She glances up at me, her eyes begging, begging.
We stand in four rows, shoulder to shoulder.
Every Dauntless was injected with an orange-brown serum that contained a tracker. Each and every Dauntless was told that the tracking device would be activated if he or she was reported missing.
I did not believe it. But I still had no idea what could possibly be the purpose of the serum.
The Erudite were planning a war, and had allied with the Dauntless so that they could use us as their fighting force. What better way to control a whole faction? Mind control. A simulation.
The colored serum contained transmitters. Transmitters connect the mind to a simulation program.
The Divergent are always aware during a simulation. They know what is real and what is not real. Their minds are wired differently from the rest.
I lace my fingers with hers, my palm pressing her palm, confirming that I am Divergent. She squeezes my hand, and I squeeze it back.
When I showed her the tattoos on my back, it was wearisome. I had done something no one had ever done before, that would probably get me killed if anyone found out. The symbols of each faction were drawn on my back—Dauntless at the top of my spine, Abnegation just below it, and the other three, smaller, beneath them.
Dauntless soldiers shove Abnegation council members into the street and shoot them through the head. Some adult members of Abnegation are herded toward one of the nearby buildings, along with the Abnegation children.
Tris had tattooed herself with the symbols of Dauntless and Abnegation. Dauntless, where her mind was, and Abnegation, where her heart was.
Eric leans close to my face, grinning. He is an Erudite in disguise, the bond that connected the Erudite and Dauntless. “Now, this is a happy sight,” he says. “The legendary Four. No one’s going to remember that I came in second now, are they? No one’s going to ask me, ‘What was it like to train with the guy who has only four fears?’” He draws his gun and points it at my right temple.
The metal is cold.
“Too bad you didn’t just take Max up on his offer, Four. Well, too bad for you, anyway,” he says quietly, sneering at me. He clicks the bullet into its chamber.
He’s obviously not going to shoot me. I’m not stupid enough to let him. I move my hand towards my gun, but Tris already has her barrel pressed to Eric’s forehead. She did not think before she decided to risk her life for me.
“I think we’ve made a mistake,” I told her softly. “We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.”
We run, me pulling her forward as she stumbles behind me. But then I hear a gunshot. She falls, a scream stopping in her throat, her cheek scraping the pavement. “Run!” she yells at me.
I’m not stupid. I tell her calmly and quietly, “No.”
We are surrounded in seconds. I help Tris up, supporting her weight.
“Divergent rebels,” Eric says, standing on one foot. His other foot has one of Tris’ bullets stuck in it. “Surrender your weapons.”
Handing over our weapons would be useless.
We are Divergent. We can’t be controlled.
Post 14: Chapter 34, pgs. 429-434
Jeanine stands in a tight blue dress that reveals the layer of pudge around her middle. Her hands are clasped together and she smirks at Tris.
“I have had a question since I began the Dauntless project, and it is this.” She sidesteps her desk, skimming the surface with her finger. “Why are most of the Divergent weak-willed, God-fearing nobodies from Abnegation, of all factions?”
Tris is the strongest person I know. She is certainly not a nobody. “Weak-willed,” I scoff at her. “It requires strong will to manipulate a simulation, last time I checked. Weak-willed is mind-controlling an army because it’s too hard for you to train one yourself.”
“I am not a fool,” says Jeanine. “A faction of intellectuals is no army. We are tired of being dominated by a bunch of self-righteous idiots who reject wealth and advancement, but we couldn’t do this on our own. And your Dauntless leaders were all too happy to oblige me if I guaranteed them a place in our new, improved government.”
“Improved,” I say, snorting. I don’t think killing innocent people is much of an improvement.
“Yes, improved,” Jeanine says. “Improved, and working toward a world in which people will live in wealth, comfort, and prosperity.”
“At whose expense?” Tris asks. Her voice is thick and sluggish. “All that wealth…doesn’t come from nowhere.”
“Currently, the factionless are a drain on our resources,” Jeanine replies. “As is Abnegation. I am sure that once the remains of your old faction are absorbed into the Dauntless army, Candor will cooperate and we will finally be able to get on with things.”
Jeanine wants control over everything. It’s the only way that she can be sure that everything goes the way she likes.
“Get on with things,” I repeat. It’s hard to not scream at this robot, a woman turned machine. “Make no mistake. You will be dead before the day is out, you—“
“Perhaps if you could control your temper,” Jeanine says, interrupting me, “you would not be in this situation to begin with Tobias.”
“I’m in this situation because you put me here,” I snap at her. “The second you orchestrated an attack against innocent people. “
“Innocent people.” She laughs, and I want to strangle her. “I find that a little funny, coming from you. I would expect Marcus’s son to understand that not all those people are innocent.” She sits on the edge of her desk, smirking. “Can you tell me honestly that you wouldn’t be happy to discover that your father was killed in the attack?”
I may hate my father, but I am not one to kill for selfish, personal reasons. “No,” I say through gritted teeth. “But at least his evil didn’t involve the widespread manipulation of an entire faction and the systematic murder of every political leader we have.” I stare at her, hard, like maybe I can pound those words into her.
Seconds go by, and she clears her throat, awkwardly. “What I was going to say,” she says, “is that soon, dozens of the Abnegation and their young children will be my responsibility to keep in order, and it does not bode well for me that a large number of them may be Divergent like yourselves, incapable of being controlled by the simulations.”
She stands and walks a few steps to the left, her hands clasped in front of her. “Therefore, it was necessary that I develop a new form of simulation to which they are not immune. I have been forced to reassess my own assumptions. That is where you come in.”
She paces a few steps to the right. “You are correct to say that you are strong-willed. I cannot control your will. But there are a few things I can control.”
She stops and faces us. Tris leans her temple into my shoulder.
Jeanine presses her palms together. There is no excitement in her eyes no vicious glee. She is a machine, and she solves problems. We are the Divergent, we are her weakness, and we are her problem.
And she is smart enough to solve any problem.
“I can control what you see and hear,” she says. “So I created a new serum that will adjust your surroundings to manipulate your will. Those who refuse to accept our leadership must be closely monitored.”
She makes everything she says sound less severe than it really is.
“You will be the first test subject, Tobias. Beatrice, however…” She smiles. “You are too injured to be of much use to me, so your execution will occur at the conclusion of this meeting.”
I feel Tris shudder against me.
I will not let this happen.
“No,” I tell her. My voice trembles, and I feel ashamed. “I would rather die.”
“I’m afraid you don’t have much of a choice in the matter,” she replies lightly.
I turn towards Tris and kiss her, whether as a goodbye or as an I’m-sorry-I-have-to-do-this, I don’t know.
It’s instinct that makes me do it, nothing else. I’m Dauntless, after all.
I lunge across the desk and wrap my hands around Jeanine’s throat. Dauntless guards leap at me, but I don’t care, even when I hear Tris scream.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long.
Eventually, two Dauntless soldiers pull me away from her and shove me to the ground. One of the soldiers pins me to the ground, pressing my face into the carpet. It’s hard to care because I’m feeling so triumphant, just for that moment. From the corner of my eye I see Tris lunge at the guards, but one of them slams her into the wall. She is weak.
And suddenly I feel stupid. When I do idiotic things, she gets hurt.
Jeanine braces herself against the desk, spluttering and gasping. She rubs her throat, which is bright red with my fingerprints. There are tears in her eyes. She takes a box from her desk drawer and opens it, revealing a needle and syringe.
Still breathing heavily, she carries it towards me.
No, not happening.
I struggle, but it is worthless. I feel the pinch of the needle as she sticks it in my neck. The fluid runs through me like lead, and I try to hold on, staring at Tris’ face as hard as I can. I fight against the serum, trying to delay the time in which it will take over me.
I blink once, and I see Tris moaning, her head in her hands.
I blink again and see Jeanine moaning, her head in her hands. Her Divergent serum was a failure.
Or was it? I can’t be sure, I can’t be sure.
A guard pulls me up to my feet.
I see Jeanine, the syringe in her hand. “Tobias,” she screeches. “Tobias!”
I attack her, closing my hands around her throat, squeezing her trachea with my fingertips.
Someone grabs my arm, and I am pulled off of her.
I look around, and see that Tris was the one who grabbed my arm. “Go to the control room,” she tells me urgently. “We can find a way to shut down the simulation from there.”
Why does everything feel like a dream?
I am led to the control room by a pair of Abnegation.
Post 15: Chapter 39, pgs. 477-478, 482-487
The last thing I was expecting was to see Marcus. When I look at him, all I see are the Marcuses in my fear landscape, with empty, black pits for eyes and holding belts that slither like snakes.
He walks up to me and wraps his arms around me. I’m frozen; I feel stuck, I don’t know what to do. “Son,” he sighs.
The only time he’s ever said that word to me was with contempt.
“Hey,” Tris pushes Marcus away from me. “Hey. Get away from him.” She hisses at him, “Stay away.”
“Beatrice, what are you doing?” an Erudite boy asks. By the way he calls her Beatrice and the way she hugged him, I assume that he is her brother.
“Tris,” I tell her weakly. She’s overreacting, but I can’t help but feel grateful.
Marcus gives her a fake scandalized look that makes him look ridiculous. “Not all those Erudite articles were full of lies,” she says, narrowing her eyes at him .
“What are you talking about?” Marcus says quietly. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, Beatrice, but—“
“The only reason I haven’t shot you yet is because he’s the one who should get to do it,” she interrupts. “Stay away from him or I’ll decide I no longer care. “
I squeeze her arms as a silent thank you. “We have to go,” I say awkwardly. “The train should be here any second. We walk towards the train tracks, and I keep my jaw clenched, trying to keep everything in. I’m afraid I will explode.
“Sorry,” Tris mutters next to me.
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” I take her hand, and I feel a bit more stable, a little bit calmer. I hope she doesn’t notice my hands are still shaking.
We sit on the train, our knees and our heads bent so that we are enclosed together in a room of our own making.
“My parents,” Tris says plainly, “They died today.”
By the way she says it, with no emotion, I know that it’s tearing at her from the inside. She’s keeping it inside her, not sure whether to believe it or not. “They died for me,” she whispers.
Tris was prepared to die for her parents. She wasn’t prepared for them to die for her.
Tris was willing to die for me.
Everything felt dreamlike, a little bit hazy at the edges, unreal. But I wasn’t about to question it.
Jeanine was fighting me, trying to access the simulation, which I had shut down. Then she does something I would never expect her to do.
She turns the gun in her hands and presses it into my palms.
Jeanine, the one person who would preserve her life at all costs.
I push the barrel of the gun into her forehead, but it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right. She puts her hand on my chest, feeling my heartbeat.
Jeanine wouldn’t do that, either.
I click the bullet into place, but I don’t shoot.
I stare at her face, trying to figure her out.
I blink, and she becomes Tris, her eyes begging, tear stains on her cheek. The blurriness at the edges of my vision slowly fades. She wraps her arms around me.
I drop the gun, and it clatters to the floor. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I’d pulled the trigger.
I grab her shoulders, keeping her there. Keeping her there before she leaves me again.
“You nearly died today,” I tell her. “I almost shot you. Why didn’t you shoot me, Tris?”
“I couldn’t do that,” she says, “It would have been like shooting myself.”
It’s impossible to have no shadow, to have no mirror image. If Tris is gone, I will have no reflection, and I don’t know what will happen to me.
“I have something to tell you,” I say to her.
She runs her fingers along the tendons in my hands and looks back at me.
“I might be in love with you,” I smile a bit. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though.”
“That’s sensible of you,” she says, smiling too. “We should find some paper so that you can make a list or a chart or something.”
I laugh into her side. “Maybe I’m already sure,” I say, “but I just don’t want to frighten you.”
She laughs a little. “Then you should know better.”
That’s right. I should.
Tris leans her head on my shoulder and sleeps, the simulation hard drive clutched to her chest.
We are both uncertain of what we will meet ahead, in the future. We are both broken, no faction. We are like the factionless, we are like my mother when she left Abnegation and embraced uncertainty. We have nothing.
Other than each other.